Do added employee perks make a difference?

March 18, 2009


Employers Provide Added Perks to Keep Workers Happy 3/18/09


While many employers are looking to cut labor-related costs wherever possible, some others are taking a longer range view and actually adding perks despite the current challenges of running a business, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Among the added perks are adoption benefits, backup childcare, child-care centers, concierge services, expanded health care services, and academic scholarships for children of company employees.

“Your knee-jerk reaction is, ‘Why in the world would you add something like this now?'” Carol Sladek, a principal at consulting firm Hewitt Associates, told the Journal.

The answer, according to Ms. Sladek, is that many companies have added perks to help reduce the stress on employees who may be working in leaner organizations. The Harvard Business Review cited a study showing voluntary quit rates at companies increase an average of 31 percent following a layoff.

Jeff Henderson, chief financial officer at Cardinal Health, told the Journal, “Anything companies can do to reduce that stress level for employees is something you have to look at.”

Discussion questions:  What added perks do you think are most helpful at this point in time? Will these benefits increase productivity, reduce turnover and foster any other benefits for employers that offer them? Are there any unique programs in retailing or consumer goods manufacturing companies that you believe are worthy of emulation?

My post: 

Providing perks that help reduce stress is admirable and strategic if part of a holistic effort to create an inspiring work environment.  Unfortunately, many firms over the years have added perks either because they were flavor-of-the-day ideas or to mask a lack of a meaningful, inspiring company purpose.  Before a company looks to add more perks, start by assessing whether the employees feel connected to the company vision and purpose.  Is there a vision & purpose?  How is it articulated, demonstrated, made a part of everyday decisions?  The key here is for employees to feel they are part of something meaningful, a deeper purpose than the specifics of their job function.  If you can make this real, you’ll find that you need fewer perks to reduce stress or inspire engagement and loyalty.

If, however, your company’s employees are emotionally connected to your vision and purpose, it will be a natural extension of your culture to work with your employees to understand what perks are appropriate.  In that case, the addition of one or more meaningful perks will enhance your company’s reputation as an ’employer of choice’ and ensure the best talent is seeking to join your team – in good times and bad.

I am most impressed with companies that focus on extraordinary learning and development.  This is the best ‘perk’ of all.  The Container Store comes to mind as a leader in this regard.  As has been well documented, every first-year, full-time salesperson undertakes some 235 hours of training as opposed to the retail industry’s typical seven or eight. 

Start with a great vision, provide extraordinary learning opportunities, and remain consistent with both.  Then, discussions about perks are appropriate and meaningful.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

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Satisfied Workers Generate Greater Returns

January 15, 2008

Satisfied Workers Generate Greater Returns



In a recent article at Knowledge@Wharton, the author discusses a study correlating employee satisfaction to company performance.  Discussion:  Do you believe there is a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and company performance? Have retailers learned to value intangibles such as employee satisfaction in achieving company performance goals or does the emphasis remain solely on traditional accounting measures?

My post:

Mary Baum got it right by emphasizing employee engagement vs. employee satisfaction.  Only a truly engaged employee does the extra things necessary for exceptional customer experiences that build lasting customer relationships.  The obstacles in the way of leaders working toward engaged employees include the focus on short-term financials, the simplistic idea of “happy” employees, over-extended, under-trained front line supervision, and detached senior executives. The solutions are not easy, but start with a long term view (ala Google) and a CEO and top lieutenants that live and breathe every day their unshakable vision of customer and employee engagement.